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Indiana Office of Energy Development

OED > Winter Home Heating Winter Home Heating

Whether you heat your home electrically or with a heating fuel, winter heating costs can be a concern of many Hoosier families.  These basic home heating facts and cost savings tips can provide you with the information you need to be energy efficient during the cold winter months.

Which Home Heating Fuel is Right for You?


Find a propane retailer (link at top of page)
Find a natural gas provider



Price Summary According to EIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration)






Heating Oil

(dollars per gallon)





Natural Gas

(dollars per thousand cubic feet)






(cents per kilowatthour)








Winter Home Heating Cost Saving Tips

Energy Savings Guide


Lower the cost of your fuel by filling in the summer and/or fall when prices are commonly at their lowest.  Check with your winter fuel provider for filling prices.

Improve your home's energy efficiency to reduce your overall energy use.  Receive a free home energy audit through Energizing Indiana or your home utility.

Take advantage of heat from the sun by opening curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.

Cover drafty windows by using a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months.  Make sure the plastic film is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration.  You can also install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.  Find out about other window treatments and coverings that can improve energy efficiency.

Adjust the temperature.  When you are home and awake, set your themostat as low as is comfortable.  When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10 - 15 degrees for eight house and save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills.  A programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature.

Find and seal leaks.  Seal the air leaks around utility cut-throughs for pips (plumbing penetrations), gas around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets.  Add caulk or weather-stripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows.

Find out how to detect air leaks.
Find out how to select and apply the appropriate caulk.
Learn how to select and apply weatherstripping.

Reduce heat loss from the fireplace.
Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning.  Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.
When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly - approximately 1 inch - and close doors leading into the room.  Lower the thermostat setting to between 50 and 55 degrees.
If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.
If you do use the fireplace, install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room.
Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible.
Purchase grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room.
Add caulking around the fireplace hearth.
Find out more techniques to improve your fireplace or wood-burning appliance's efficiency.
Learn tips for safe and efficient fireplace installation and wood burning.
Lower your water heating costs.  Water heating can account for 14% to 25% of the energy consumed in your home.  Turn down the temperatue of your water heater to the warm setting (120 degrees F).  You'll not only save energy, you'll avoid scalding your hands.  Find other strategies for energy efficient water heating.

Supplement your natural gas or propane use with heat pumps.  Consider low temperature heat pumps of geothermal heat pumps.  There is a high upfront costs to install the system, but the heat provided after that is low-no cost.  Low temperature heat pumps can work in temperatues as low as 25 degrees, which lets you conserve your natural gas or propane usage for the coldest winter days.  When electricity is used in a heat pump, it is not converted directly to heat.  Instead, it is used in a compressor motor which is part of a system that moves heat instead of making heat.  It moves heat from the outside air into the inside furnace, concentrates it, and then delivers it to the home.  A heat pump can move heat at twice to over three times the efficiency of an electric furnace.

Maintain your heating system. 

Schedule service for your heating system.
Find out what maintenance is required to keep your heating system operating efficiently.

Furnaces:  Replace your furnace filter once a month or as needed.
Find out more about maintaining your furnace or boiler.

Wood and Pellet Burning Heaters:  Clean the flue vent regularly and clean the inside of the appliance with a wire brush periodically to ensure that your home is heated efficiently.
Find other maintenance recommendations for wood and pellet burning appliances.

Need Assistance Paying Your Energy Bills?

If you cannot pay your energy bills, apply for Low-income Heating Assitance:

Contact your utility and work out a payment plan
You can also contact your local Community Action Agency for information on:
The Energy Assistance Program
The United Way of Central Indiana's Winter Assistance Fund
The Share the Warm Program

Help Others Pay Their Utility Bills

Help others pay their utility bills by donating to the Share the Warmth Program.

Safety Tips

Stay safe this winter with these helpful  safety tips.